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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nats avoid Phillies sweep in final homestand OR an ugly story with a happy ending

Emotionally, this is a difficult post for me to cobble together. This is my post about the final series at R.F.K. Stadium, the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Washington Nationals.

For 3 years now, I have been an over-the-top, dyed-in-the-wool Washington Nationals baseball fan, despite only casual interest in baseball over the previous 35+ years of my life. The arrival of this National League franchise has changed my entire life, I think for the better. It has brought me in contact with so many different people from various walks of life who I never would have met otherwise. From the Lerners themselves and other members of the club ownership group to broadcasters, camera-operators, ushers, service workers, parking lot attendants and the players and fans, I have met a lot of really wonderful people thanks to the Washington Nationals. For almost 8 months of the year, from spring training through the World Series, I have a daily interest which means so much to me now. And then there is all of the off-season machinations to read about as well.

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell once wrote a piece that resonates with many baseball fans and I have discovered that it resonates with me as well. I love this:

Baseball is not necessarily an obsessive-compulsive disorder, like washing your hands 100 times a day, but it's beginning to seem that way. We're reaching the point where you can be a truly dedicated, state-of-the-art fan or you can have a life. Take your pick." ~Thomas Boswell, Washington Post, 13 April 1990"

For better or for worse, Boswell has described me. I am a truly dedicated, state-of-the-art fan, who pours over box scores, websites and records even the Nats games that I attend, so that I might review them later, if only to see the highlights, but usually to hear the excellent play-by-play calling of Bob Carpenter and the color commentary of Hall-of-Famer Don Sutton. I may have sacrificed what could be called "a life" because of baseball's all-permeating influence on my daily existence. Like the Jimmy Fallon character, Ben Wrightman in "Fever Pitch", I have to check the Nationals schedule before I can commit to any other possible plans. The first season was completely intoxicating, welcoming me to a world that I 'd only had fleeting encounters with in my life. The fact that the Nats were good made it even more wonderful, and the fun of flirting with a pennant race in early September only whetted my appetite for more. I treated myself to season tickets for 2006, mostly to secure a position in the new stadium but also because I was sick of begging for tickets from people who I knew had them, and I wanted good seats. Little did I know what joys awaited me as an official season ticket holder.

First of all, though this is hardly the most important aspect, being a season ticket holder is a matter of pride and dedication. You tell people that you have season tickets and they know how serious a fan you are. Who in their right mind would buy a pair of 81-game season tickets in the lower seating area for personal use (as opposed to a business write-off) unless you were among the most dedicated of fans?

So, on to the final series at R.F.K. (to be continued)

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